Stephanie Kane: The Balance of Art and Obsession

Author Stephanie Kane shares how an interest in art led to her newest novel, how she empathized with her villain, and discusses the intersection of art and crime.
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Stephanie Kane is a lawyer and award-winning author of four crime novels. Born in Brooklyn, she came to Colorado as a freshman at CU. She owned and ran a karate studio in Boulder and is a second-degree black belt. After graduating from law school, she was a corporate partner at a top Denver law firm before becoming a criminal defense attorney. She has lectured on money laundering and white-collar crime in Eastern Europe and given workshops throughout the country on writing technique. She lives in Denver with her husband and two black cats.

Extreme Indifference and Seeds of Doubt won a Colorado Book Award for Mystery and two Colorado Authors League Awards for Genre Fiction. She belongs to Mystery Writers of America, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and the Colorado Authors League.

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In this post, Stephanie Kane shares how an interest in art led to her newest novel, how she empathized with her villain, and discusses the intersection of art and crime.

(Writing a Mystery Novel: Creating a Villain & 5 Ways To Justify a Crime)

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Name: Stephanie Kane
Title: Automat
Publisher: Cold Hard Press
Release date: October 15, 2020
Genre: Crime
Previous titles: A Perfect Eye (Cold Hard Press 2019); Seeds of Doubt (Scribner 2004); Extreme Indifference (Scribner 2003); Quiet Time (Bantam 2001); Blind Spot (Bantam 2000)
Elevator pitch for the book: Who is the enigmatic woman in Edward Hopper’s famous painting, Automat? When the young actress playing her is brutally murdered at the launch of The Denver Art Museum’s blockbuster Hopper exhibition, Conservator of Paintings Lily Sparks uses her special gift of discernment to solve the crime.

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What prompted you to write this book?

A fascination with Edward Hopper’s art, and curiosity about the woman he painted over and over. What would happen if a killer overidentified with an artist and his obsession with his subject?

How long did it take to go from idea to publication? 

About two years. The idea always changes. Because Hopper’s paintings are so inert—they’ve been described as perpetually Sunday, with the people in them waiting for something to happen—I needed to bring them to life for the reader and the killer. To stir the killer up, I turned key paintings into blasts of micro-theater staged in public venues throughout Denver.

Were there any surprises in the writing process for this book?

As I got deeper into the killer’s psyche, I began to feel for him. Even near the end, there’s a moment where he wants to believe he can be loved without killing for it.

What do you hope readers will get out of your book?

Respect for artists, famous and unknown.

If you could share one piece of advice with other authors, what would it be?

Bring your A-game to every scene.

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